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Religious and political movement founded by the Sudanese prophet al-Mahdi. He adopted the name al-Mahdi (meaning Divinely Inspired One) because of his conviction that he had been divinely chosen to lead a holy war (jihad) against Sudan's Egyptian ruling class, who he believed had deserted the Islamic faith. His uprising began in 1881, and within four years he had conquered almost all the territory formerly occupied by Egypt, his crowning victory being the capture of Khartoum from Gen. Charles George Gordon in 1885. Establishing a new capital at Omdurman, he became head of an armed theocracy. When he died from illness, his disciple 'Abd Allah succeeded him. Following initial victories, 'Abd Allah's forces were gradually hunted down by Anglo-Egyptian armies under H.H. Kitchener and almost entirely destroyed in the Battle of Omdurman. The movement sustained a small following through the next century, but its political import had been destroyed.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Mahdist movement, visit Britannica.com.
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